Attention teachers – this information is for you!

You are the captain of your class and will be in charge of exploring Dušan and Voitre Marek: Surrealists at sea.

Facilitate the following activities to engage your students with works of art while they look, imagine and draw some surreal scenes in the exhibition!

You will need a surreal school kit which includes:

  • Lead pencils
  • Sketch books (A5)

Make sure students each have a pencil and sketchbook before you enter the exhibition space.

Getting started

Dive into Surrealists at sea and make your way to Gallery 25.

Voitre Marek, Australia, 1919 - 1999, Victim of the world, 1952, Adelaide, pen & blue ink on photographic paper, 25.2 x 20.1 cm (sheet); d'Auvergne Boxall Bequest Fund 1999, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, © Art Gallery of South Australia.

Look at the work My Gibraltar for one minute.

Now spend one-minute thinking/writing of some words in response to this work of art (like a word association game).

Play a round-robin with each student sharing one word from their list. Continue to share a different word, how many times can you get around the circle before you run out of words.

(5 minutes)

Back in the classroom

Collate the words from your round-robin game and use them as a starting point to write a short surreal story.

Early years/primary

Students may simply share one word out loud.

Middle/secondary

Individually, students are encouraged to write down their responses.

Voitre Marek, Australia, 1919 - 1999, My Gibraltar, 1948, on board the SS Charlton Sovereign, oil on board, 29.0 x 20.5 cm; d'Auvergne Boxall Bequest Fund 1996, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, © Estate of Voitre Marek.

Voitre Marek, born Dolní Oldřichov, Czechoslovakia 1919, died Adelaide 1999, My Gibraltar, 1948, on board the SS Charlton Sovereign, oil on board, 29.0 x 20.5 cm; d'Auvergne Boxall Bequest Fund 1996, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, © Estate of Voitre Marek

These are quick exercises that the captain (teacher) will direct:

  1. Draw your favourite animal using the hand you write with (1 minute)
  2. Draw your favourite animal using the hand you never write with (1 minute)
  3. Draw your favourite place or food standing on one leg (1 minute)
  4. Draw the work of art in front of you only using straight lines (or using circles or triangles). (1 minute)
  5. Draw a continuous line drawing of another work of art without taking your pencil off the page. (1 minute)

Draw the person in front of you without looking at your paper or taking your pencil off the page.

Halfway through drawing, instruct the students to turn their paper upside down or on its side and continue drawing.

(10 minutes)

Voitre Marek, Australia, 1919 - 1999, Surrealism is an art that follows (like a person walking in a river) life so as to transform it into life in a line - word – color (Surrealism je umění které sleduje (jako člověk jdoucí v tok řeky) život tak aby jej přetavil v život v lince - slovĕ – barvĕ), c.1955, Adelaide, pen & ink on card, 30.2 x 38.0 cm (sheet); Gift of the Marek and Sankey families through the Art Gallery of South Australia Foundation 2020, Art Gallery of South Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, © Estate of Voitre Marek.

Exquisite Corps is a game surrealist artists played and one that is still popular today. Participants take turns in drawing a section of a body on paper, folding the drawing to hide their contribution, before passing it on to another person to draw the next section. Sometimes the results are funny, odd and grotesque!

Find examples in the exhibition where Dušan and Voitre Marek have applied this method to their work. Draw your favourite exquisite corps!

Using the concertina sketchbook try your hand at your own exquisite corps. You could take inspiration from some of the themes in the exhibition.

(5 minutes)

Back in the classroom

Try some more exquisite corps with writing, poetry or collage.


Dušan Marek, born Bítouchov, Czechoslovakia 1926, died Adelaide 1993, Equator, 1948, Gibraltar, SS Charlton Sovereign, oil on board, 121.7 x 91.2 cm, 126.5 x 96.0 x 5.5 cm (frame size); South Australian Government Grant 1972, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, © Art Gallery of South Australia

As a class make a list of the objects you can see in the works of art by the Marek brothers. For example, clocks, boats, water etc.

Teacher to lead! Using the class list, call out one of the words. Students to draw this object from memory. After one minute, call out a different word. Student will stop drawing the previous object and begin drawing the new one. Continue this method, repeat word and vary the time between each prompt. Students may join their objects together in some way so that it becomes one drawing.

(10 minutes)

Dušan Marek, Australia, 1926 - 1993, Analysis of substance, 1952, Kings Cross, Sydney, oil on canvas, 36.5 x 88.2 cm; Purchased with the assistance of James Agapitos OAM and Ray Wilson OAM 2007 National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, © Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Dušan Marek, Australia, 1926 - 1993, Analysis of substance, 1952, Kings Cross, Sydney, oil on canvas, 36.5 x 88.2 cm; Purchased with the assistance of James Agapitos OAM and Ray Wilson OAM 2007 National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, .

Voitre Marek, Australia, 1919 - 1999, My Gibraltar, 1948, on board the SS Charlton Sovereign, oil on board, 29.0 x 20.5 cm; d'Auvergne Boxall Bequest Fund 1996, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, © Estate of Voitre Marek.

Voitre Marek, born Dolní Oldřichov, Czechoslovakia 1919, died Adelaide 1999, My Gibraltar, 1948, on board the SS Charlton Sovereign, oil on board, 29.0 x 20.5 cm; d'Auvergne Boxall Bequest Fund 1996, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, © Estate of Voitre Marek

Introducing Dušan and Voitre Marek

Find out more about Czech-Australian Marek brothers

Dušan Marek, born Bítouchov, Czechoslovakia 1926, died Adelaide 1993, Birth of Love, 1948, Dillenburg, oil on wood, 14.7 x 72.0 cm, 16 x 73.5 x 3.1 cm (including frame); Gift of the artist 1988, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, © Art Gallery of South Australia

Experiences of war

Learn about the impact of the Communist coup in Czechoslovakia


Dušan Marek, born Bítouchov, Czechoslovakia 1926, died Adelaide 1993, Equator, 1948, Gibraltar, SS Charlton Sovereign, oil on board, 121.7 x 91.2 cm, 126.5 x 96.0 x 5.5 cm (frame size); South Australian Government Grant 1972, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, © Art Gallery of South Australia

The voyage: immigration to Australia

Learn more about Dušan and Voitre’s journey to Australia

Dušan Marek, Australia, 1926 - 1993, Analysis of substance, 1952, Kings Cross, Sydney, oil on canvas, 36.5 x 88.2 cm; Purchased with the assistance of James Agapitos OAM and Ray Wilson OAM 2007 National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, © Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Dušan Marek, Australia, 1926 - 1993, Analysis of substance, 1952, Kings Cross, Sydney, oil on canvas, 36.5 x 88.2 cm; Purchased with the assistance of James Agapitos OAM and Ray Wilson OAM 2007 National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, .

Life in Australia: Surrealism, travel & the ocean

Discover more about the brothers' long and varied life in Australia

Voitre Marek, Australia, 1919 - 1999, Mood, 1952, Adelaide, pen & ink on photographic paper, 20.2 x 25.2 cm (sheet); d'Auvergne Boxall Bequest Fund 1999, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, © Art Gallery of South Australia.

What is Surrealism?

Explore surreal works in the permanent collection

Photo: Sven Kovac.

Role of the curator

Get to know Elle Freak, Assistant Curator, Australian Paintings & Sculpture

The Gallery’s Learning programs are supported by the Department for Education.

Art Gallery of South Australia staff Elle Freak, Kylie Neagle and Dr. Lisa Slade contributed to the development of this resource.